I once came upon a Quora-type question (before Quora) that went something like: If I start reading a book and I’m not enjoying it, is it somehow wrong or disrespectful not to finish it? I think this is a common thought, especially for avid readers. Somehow when we pick up a book, we feel we’re making a subconscious promise to that book, or that author, or the person who lent or gave it to us, that we’ll read it. And reading it means finishing it.
The first half of the book lives up to its reputation. The story of folly and false pride and mis-perceptions and hubris is told very well in the exposition. The style takes some getting used to, as it is impossible for a non-expert to keep track of the many names, places, and dates that clutter each page. But trusting her authority on the facts, her narrative causes shock and wincing heartbreak. Though the premise is fascinating, the book slowly loses its sharp edge and turns into an exhaustive drudgery of facts in its 500-page course.